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Since the number of assessees is huge, it was a wise step to implement it in a phased manner. Initially it was made mandatory wef 1st April, 2020, for assessees having turnover of over 100 cr in the previous year. But Corona played the spoilsport and it was deferred. Finally it has been made mandatory wef 1st Oct, 2020 for taxpayers with annual turnover (including branch transfer etc.) exceeding Rs. 500 cr in 19-20. E-invoice has been made mandatory only for B2B transactions i.e. where supply is made to another business enterprise. For B2C transactions i.e. supply to consumer, an invoice will be generated by the seller himself, as he is doing now. Additionally, this invoice will contain a QR code, generated by the seller himself. Certain sectors like banking, insurance, transport etc. have been exempt from this requirement, as of now. Also, presently, smaller businesses cannot jump on the bandwagon of e-invoice, even voluntarily.
Most of us would wonder what an e-invoice is. Some of us may feel that e-invoice will be generated from some government portal. Trust me, the government has many important things to do and its better that it concentrates on them. Even in case of e-invoice, we shall continue to prepare invoice in our accounting or ERP softwares. But additionally, the invoice shall be uploaded on a government portal in a specified format. This will be done before issue of invoice to the buyer. Government portal will check the necessary particulars, generate a Unique number (IRN) of the invoice and also a QR code. This e-invoice with QR code shall be sent back to the taxpayer. For all practical purpose, this will be the invoice. An invoice without an IRN will not be treated as an invoice. In other words, buyer will not be able to claim credit of taxes paid on it, it its not an e-invoice. E-invoice can be sent to the buyer in pdf or electronic form.
1st Oct, 2020 is not far. To those to whom its applicable must start the process right away, if they have not already initiated the same. A lot needs to be done before e-invoicing can become a way of life. To begin with, one would need to understand whether the relevant ERP is ready for e-invoicing solution. If its ready, then whether the cost is affordable and whether the vendor would be able to make the business e-invoice ready by the specified date. Or whether it would be prudent to go for companies who would provide end to end integration tool for e-invoicing. Many other activities need to be completed. Like redesigning the invoice to comply with the e-invoice schema. Many other decisions like whether e-invoice or pdf invoice will be issued to customers, will have to be taken, in due course.
Another pertinent question then arises is that whether we as professionals or those having turnover below Rs 500 cr should be really concerned about this massive change. The answer is a big Yes as the early bird catches the prey. Those who join before others always get the first mover advantage. They live the journey and get to know the nitty gritty of the new “thing”. Learning is never infructuous. If not now, it will be helpful when in the second or third phase its made applicable to smaller businesses.
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